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The Little House

"What is the matter, father?" said she, alarmed.

"Nothing, daughter, nothing."

"It was my asking for the key which agitated you so violently, father. What does this little house contain which frightens you so much?"

"Rosalie, Rosalie! you do not know what you are saying. Go and look for your watering-pot in the green-house."

"But, father, what is there in the little garden-house?"

"Nothing that can interest you, Rosalie."

"But why do you go there every day without permitting me to go with you?"

"Rosalie, you know that I do not like to be questioned and that curiosity is the greatest defect in your character."

Rosalie said no more but she remained very thoughtful. This little house, of which she had never before thought, was now constantly in her mind.

"What can be concealed there?" she said to herself. "How pale my father turned when I asked his permission to enter! I am sure he thought I should be in some sort of danger. But why does he go there himself every day? It is no doubt to carry food to some ferocious beast confined there. But if it was some wild animal, would I not hear it roar or howl or shake the house? No, I have never heard any sound from this cabin. It cannot then be a beast. Besides, if it was a ferocious beast, it would devour my father when he entered alone. Perhaps, however, it is chained. But if it is indeed chained, then there would be no danger for me. What can it be? A prisoner? My father is good, he would not deprive any unfortunate innocent of light and liberty. Well, I absolutely must discover this mystery. How shall I manage it? If I could only secretly get the key from my father for a half hour! Perhaps some day he will forget it."

Rosalie was aroused from this chain of reflection by her father, who called to her with a strangely agitated voice.

"Here, father—I am coming."

She entered the house and looked steadily at her father. His pale, sad countenance indicated great agitation.

More than ever curious, she resolved to feign gaiety and indifference in order to allay her father's suspicions and make him feel secure.

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